The Hirsch Brewery in southern Germany is a family-run business that draws on more than 200 years of tradition, local ingredients, and craftsmanship. The yeast is bred in-house. And the water comes from a source discovered right under the brewery by a monk. The company boasts that its beer is “brewed in the region for the region…and for anybody else that loves our beer”
For Hirsch brewmaster, Thorsten Jauch, there’s even more to this legendary product than a well-crafted mix of barley, hops, water, and yeast. Packaging matters too. That’s because careless bottling can introduce oxidation to the product, which results in a stale beer flavor—undermining even the most exquisite ale. So how does the Hirsch Brewery team keep it fresh? With a new bottling line from KHS, a PTC customer.
The new KHS equipment used at Hirsch Brewery automates key stages of production, like bottle cleaning, filling, capping, labeling, and crating. At full capacity, the line can produce 24,000 bottles per hour.
The cornerstone of the new bottling system is the new Innofill Glass DRS–ZMS. The machine fills the bottle with beer and injects a small amount of inert gas (CO2 or nitrogen) on top of the beer to disperse oxygen.
Most brewers would be satisfied with lesser machines that produce oxygen levels of 0.10 mg/L of beer. But Jauch wanted better. With the KHS equipment, he’s reaching levels of 0.02 to 0.008 mg/L of beer – cutting oxygen by a factor of 5 to 12. That’s where PTC Creo helps.
Many of the innovations you see in the Innofill Glass system are directly linked to using PTC solutions,” says Andreas Krieg, head of construction at the KHS site. “We use PTC Creo for every stage of the process, from the first sketches, to detailed models, to manufacturing.
A major game changer with the Innofill Glass System has been the Hygienic Design concept. Every small gap in the machine, can cause big hygienic problems and alter the taste of the beverage. So Krieg and his team use PTC Creo to assess these potential problems.
“The Hygienic Design concept is only possible with PTC Creo,” Krieg says. “We use it to replace corners and edges with curves and slopes, so liquids run off and cleanliness improves. We also make sure there are no exposed electrical elements, pilot valves, and control hoses in the filling valve hygiene area.”
Design validation and review is carried out in PTC Creo View. The design team can quickly load all the subassemblies into a visualization tool, including supplier parts that are developed in other CAD systems or delivered in a neutral format like STEP.
The viewing software was initially used just to look at CAD data with people who weren’t design engineers—like customers. But soon, manufacturer sites and others on the team used PTC Creo View to view designs and provide customer-specific quotes. Turns out it was just a great fit for the entire team.
One design challenge for KHS is making machines more energy efficient. Fortunately, engineers can use PTC Creo Simulate and its simulation capabilities to design lighter weight parts, without losing machine stability, strength, and rigidity. As a result, the newest machines have lowered electrical consumption by 15%, with reduced weight of up to 25%.
To work with customers, you must keep them consistently informed as you develop their machines. A 3D model of the machine can be the best way to do that – plus it impresses the customers. They can see how the machine looks, and get a start planning changes to their plant when the new equipment arrives.
KHS uses PTC Creo and the 3D models on their powerwall system – a 3D IMAX. It’s great for customers because they get to view even the earliest stages of development.
Best of all, Krieg and KHS save time with PTC Creo. “What used to take 30 months in our previous 2D CAD system now takes just 12 months – so the time taken to deliver new innovations to the market is reduced by over 50%.”
The results are impressive. The new KHS Innofill DRS-ZMS glass bottle filling system offers breweries a flexible, hygienic, efficient system with low CO2 and energy consumption. And electric drive power consumption is 40% less than similar models.
The KHS Innofill Glass DRS-ZMS filler series is already exceeding the forecast sales figures. Now KHS looks toward other industries including wine, sparkling wine, and spirits.
Hirsch Brewery sees the results. "Our business has grown faster than the local brewing sector in Baden-Württemberg in recent years," says Jauch.